Eshel Kreiter -
FY 2013 Annual Report
I have been working with the ANS as a Development Consultant since mid-June, so this is my first chance to address you. I am pleased that I can be the bearer of good news. In terms of fundraising, the fiscal year that just ended was a good one for the Society and generally, there is every reason to be optimistic going forward. There are some areas that need improvement, which I will address momentarily, but in brief, the situation is as follows:
In the fiscal year just closed,
- revenue from general membership totaled $133,050, representing an increase of $10,315, or 8.4%, over 2012.
- revenue from the Sage Society (ABSS) was $102,500, a decrease of $7,500 or 9.3%, from 2012. However, we are actively addressing issues that we have identified within this important area of membership, and I am hopeful that we will see a turnaround here in 2014.
- the Annual Gala raised $166,296— a very good response, but please note that this includes a special gift of $100,000. Without it, the net total would be $66,296, a figure that is very close to what it has been in previous years.
- revenue from appeals and unrestricted gifts to the general fund totaled $445,325, an increase of $236,727 over 2012. This increase includes several extraordinarily generous donations. However, it is also true, and well-worth pointing out, that giving in general was up this year—everyone was more than generous this past year in response to both the mid-year and the year-end appeals.
It has been my observation since I started here that the ANS is blessed with unusually dedicated trustees, members, and donors, and we are grateful for all you have done to support the Society this year and in the past. We hope we can count on you to help us secure the resources needed for the future of the Society in the years to come. Your contributions are critical, and without them, the ANS would not be able to fulfill its mission of being the finest institution of its kind, anywhere.
Generally, the prospects for raising revenue in these areas in the near future look quite good, and I would like to update you on our current activities.
Among our long-term efforts is a new Planned Giving initiative. This is an area of potential funding that is bound to become increasingly important to the Society if we wish to secure our mission for years to come. Many members are quite passionate about the need to create a legacy for future generations, and we hope to make it more attractive for them to do so by leaving a bequest to the ANS.
Our current plans call for rolling out the first stages of a Planned Giving campaign in the spring. This includes a Planned Giving brochure, the development of a named Legacy Circle and a Legacy Wall where donor names will be displayed.
Regarding more short-range activities, this is where we stand:
In the area of membership, we have been working on two fronts: that of general membership in the ANS and of membership in the more exclusive Sage Society. General membership renewals are up this year, with a 9 percent increase over 2012. This is very encouraging, as it reverses a downward trend of the previous five years. However, in absolute member numbers, we are still not where we believe we can be, and we need to become much more proactive about both retaining members and, even more importantly, enticing new members to come into the fold. Your help on both fronts would be especially welcome here—think of it as a way of multiplying your support for an institution you hold dear.
Recently we conducted an all-out effort— by mail, email, and phone— to communicate with all non-renewing members to determine if their reasons for non-renewal could be eliminated. Two chief themes emerged: the cost of membership and the non-renewing member’s distance from ANS headquarters and thus from ANS-sponsored events.
We are in the process of finding ways to address both these issues: two examples are the idea of videotaping the on-site lectures and making them exclusively available to members online; and making dues payable in installments. Such measures could lift the rate of renewal above what the ANS has previously seen. To increase the membership base, we are looking at a number of ways to enhance the Society’s visibility in general, and in particular to expand the ANS presence on social media sites. We are already seeing strong positive responses to our efforts on Facebook and Twitter. Like every other institution in the world, though, we do not honestly know what the real payoff of that social-media presence will be, and it remains to be determined how we can best leverage it to cultivate new members. There are also a number of thoughts on how to make areas of our website more appealing to the general public. For example, one idea is to cull from the ANS’s vast collections a large number of objects that can fairly be called “highlights of the collection” and present them as a slide show on a separate page. This would allow non-expert viewers easy access to visually arresting and historically interesting items from the ANS collection.
Growing the Sage Society membership is a different challenge. Here the problem seems to be that in the past the advantages of Sage membership were either not articulated clearly enough or were in fact not seen as valuable enough to justify the added cost. We are working to remedy both concerns, and efforts to enhance the benefits of Sage membership are ongoing. Already, however, we have created and made available a new brochure for mailing and handouts, and we have updated the information about the Sage Society on the ANS website.
We are also nearing completion of a membership survey that will be distributed to all members of every category. Doing this is actually rather labor-intensive, but the effort is worthwhile: garnering information about our members’ levels of satisfaction with our various programs and offerings will both inform our future efforts in making membership more attractive and help us move memberships from one category to another.
Right now, a steadily growing portion of my time is now taken up with coordinating the Society’s upcoming Annual Dinner Gala. The honorees, Abe and Marian Sofaer, are noted not just in the world of numismatics but in diplomatic, political, and judicial circles as well—they therefore provide the Society with a wonderful opportunity to expand beyond the usual guest list and bring new people to the event and additional ad revenue to the program. So let me seize this golden opportunity to urge that all of you not only attend this year’s Gala but do your utmost to bring along friends, family, or colleagues.
This year we are modifying the format of the evening, hiring new entertainment, changing the look of the print materials, and expanding our vendor and guest lists, all with the purpose of re-casting the Gala and bringing some new excitement to the event. As it happens, Abe Sofaer, among his many accomplishments and interests, is a trustee of the National Jazz Museum of Harlem and an ardent champion of jazz. Because of this connection, we were introduced to a rising star of the jazz world, a trumpeter named Dominick Farinacci, who the New York Times said “has the prepossessing charm and lyrical instinct of a jazz-pop star.” Dominick will be performing at this year’s Gala, and we are certain that he will bring a lot of excitement to the evening.
We are also increasing the prices for tickets and ads, with a goal of generating at least 20 percent more revenue from both sources. If successful, we will build on this model for next year, and with luck, do even more to make the Gala an evening that you will not want to miss.